What Do I Record as Cycle Day 1? (The Difference Between SPOTTING and Your PERIOD)


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Image: www.healthtap.com Graphics: Pee-On-A-Stick-Freak

 

When you’re new to (Charting) it can be a bit confusing sometimes to know exactly WHEN or WHAT to Record on your Fertility Chart as CD (Cycle Day) 1. We used to assume that anytime you had any kind of bleeding, “Well that MUST be the start of our Period!” Yeah, ummmm, no matter how Light, Heavy or even when it happened!

I’m sure you’ve heard this from a friend or family member, “You must just be starting Early,” OR,  “It must be a LATE Period.” Better yet, no matter how Light it was, maybe they also told you – (or maybe you just assumed as so many of us do) that it was just an EXTREMELY LIGHT Period! Well, as time goes on more and more research is done to help expand our minds and give us some clarity!

There are two phases to our Cycle – The Follicular Phase (The time from the first day of our Menstrual Period until Ovulation takes place) and that’s controlled by a Hormone called, “Estrogen.” The next Phase of our cycle is known as The Luteal Phase (The time from Ovulation until either our Period starts or we achieve Pregnancy) and that’s controlled by a Hormone called, “Progesterone,” which is a heat inducing Hormone.

If you happen to take your BBT’s (Basal Body Temperatures) throughout your cycle, Estrogen keeps your temps low during the first Phase prior to Ovulation and Progesterone elevates and sustains our higher temps post Ovulation. Most of the time, (either one or two things will happen) – we will notice that our BBT’s have remained High past 13-16 DPO (Days Past Ovulation) and have possibly achieved Pregnancy! Or, our temps will drop back down which is a good indication that we can expect our Period sometime soon.

Sometimes though we can experience what is known as, “Mid-Cycle Spotting,” on or around Ovulation. That is not uncommon! Usually (if you’re also keeping track of your Cervical Fluid or Cervical Mucus) you may notice a bit of Fluid that resembles raw Egg Whites. If you happen to see a bit of Pink, Red, or even Brown tinged EWCM (Egg White Cervical Mucus) that is considered to be amongst the most fertile, and is caused Sometimes by a bit of spotting due to the Mature Egg breaking through the Egg Follicle.

At other times, (although it is considered RARE) you may notice a bit of spotting between 7-10 DPO and if you’ve achieved Pregnancy than that can also be known as, “Implantation Spotting,” which OFTEN gets mistaken for a Period! (Now, not ALL spotting is associated with Ovulation and Pregnancy) BUT – it can be considered as a clue, and can therefore give you a bit of insight. To actually peak into your Fertile Window – you may wanna consider taking a OPK (Ovulation Predictor Kit), also to confirm Early Pregnancy I would highly suggest taking a High Sensitivity HPT (Home Pregnancy Test!)

So, how do you differentiate between Spotting and actual Flo? Well, (as some licensed Doctors have put it) if you wipe and only see a bit of Pink, or a few drops of Blood – then that would be considered, “Spotting.”

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Images: www.wikihow.com Graphics: Pee-On-A-Stick-Freak


Any amount of RED Blood that requires a pad or a tampon would be considered, “Menses or actual Flo.”

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Image: www.wikihow.com Graphics: Pee-On-A-Stick-Freak


So essentially, if you need a pad or a tampon than you can officially record that as, “Cycle Day 1.”

Cycle Day 1 (again) is defined as your first day of actual Bright RED or Dark RED Flo that requires a Pad or a Tampon!

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Image: www.egeve.com Graphics: Pee-On-A-Stick-Freak

If you’re actively TTC (Trying To Conceive) and you have a higher Temperature above your coverline – (and you notice a bit of spotting) Don’t lose hope just yet! There may be a possibility that it’s simply Implantation Spotting.

If you’re new to Charting, (or tracking your Period) even if you’re NOT actively TTC – Charting is still a great way to pinpoint your Period each cycle and can also indicate whether or not you should possibly Test for Pregnancy.

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How To TEST with a OPK Test Strip

How To Test with a OPK

Image: www.eBay.co.uk Graphics: Pee-On-A-Stick-Freak

 

So you’ve decided to start using OPK’s to help you determine when your BEST chance at Conception is? That’s great! You’re now on your way to maximizing your chances of successfully getting Pregnant. If you haven’t started charting, I highly recommend it!

Although testing with OPK’s (Ovulation Predictor Kits) is a great way to gain some much-needed insight into your Fertility Window – It only Does just that! You’ll need to follow-up with 3 days of sustained higher BBT’s (Basal Body Temperatures) to confirm that Ovulation has in fact taken place. Usually a great indicator (or second fertility sign) of WHEN to start testing with a OPK, is when you start to notice Fertile Cervical Fluid. Usually after Menstruation you’ll notice a bit of Scant, dry, or Sticky CM (Cervical Mucus) if any at all – followed by Creamy or Lotion-Like, and then as Estrogen starts to influence your hormones your CM will begin to thin out! You may start to notice a bit of a watery sensation and that usually will lead to the most fertile type of CM which is categorized as EWCM (Egg White Cervical Mucus) which the name sort of speaks for itself. If you’re not familiar with it, crack open a raw Egg and feel the consistency of the Egg whites! It should be slippery, clear and stretch 1-2 inches between your thumb and your index finger. Sometimes it can also be tinged with Pink, red Blood, or even brown! (That is considered to be amongst the most fertile) so if you happen to notice that type of CM along with a Cervical Position that’s High, Soft and Open – Now’s definitely the time to Test with a OPK! Here’s a Chart that can give you a Good idea as to when (based off of your average cycles) would be a Good time to start!

Cycle Chart

Image: www.conceiveeasy.com

There are 3 types of Tests you can use – “Midstream,” which is very Common at drugstores, “Cassettes,” which are also very Common, “Digitals,” and then lastly our Internet Cheapies, (also known as) “Test Strips,” which is what we are talking about today. They’re by far less expensive simply because you’re not paying for the fancy container they come in.

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Image: www.fertilityties.com Image: Pee-On-A-Stick-Freak

Now with the most effective Test date being determined with your other secondary fertility signs – It’s also important to understand how to PREPARE for testing!

Unlike Pregnancy Tests that usually are taken with FMU (First Morning Urine) especially with possible Early Pregnancy – It is HIGHLY recommended to use Afternoon Urine when testing with a OPK, usually between the hours of 2-8pm and at the SAME TIME EVERYDAY! Why you ask? Because the LH (Luteinizing Hormone) in FMU usually isn’t metabolized enough, and can therefore give you a False Negative! (Which of course if you’re actively Trying To Get Pregnant you definitely don’t want that) essentially it can cause you to possibly miss your Surge. (When dipping your Test Strip there is a black line that says, “Max Line,” it’s always best not to dip your Test past that line to avoid over-saturation of the Test)

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Image: www.naturalfertilityshop.com

So what is a LH Surge? Well, LH tends to flow through our bodies at all times. Just a few days prior to Ovulation the LH Hormone starts to increase to a higher concentration (thus as we call the “Surge”) and that higher concentration of LH can then be measured by a OPK.

Typically speaking there are different brands of OPK’s that can detect different levels of the Hormone so to speak. A normal, healthy female would probably opt to use a OPK that detected 30-40 mI/U only because we have the Hormone constantly running through our system and would not want to yield a False Positive result using a lower sensitivity test. (In some cases though, you may need a lower sensitivity Test just depending on what YOUR “normal” concentration is that’s running through your body during non-peak times) – We on average, typically have anywhere from 1-20 mI/U prior to our Surge. You can find Tests that are 10-25 mI/U, 30-40 mI/U (which is considered average) and then the lower sensitivity Tests that can run up to even a 100 mI/U! (Again, I highly recommend NOT purchasing those Tests simply because according to some Consumer Studies it’s usually next to impossible to have a LH Surge that High in concentration!) You’ll more than likely yield nothing but Negative Results.

Once you’ve established the best brand, day, and time to start taking your Tests – a Good question most have is, “How Do I Read Them?” Here’s a few illustrations that may help you learn how to interpret the results.

If you’re using Test Strips, you may see packaging very similar to this:

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Image: www.dhgate.com Graphics: Pee-On-A-Stick-Freak

This can be a bit confusing if you’re unfamiliar with how they work. This claims if there’s 2 Lines, it’s positive. Don’t be fooled though! Regardless of what kind of OPK’s you opt to use, essentially they all work the same way.

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Image: www.spermmeetseggplan.com Graphics: Pee-On-A-Stick-Freak

A TRUE Positive Result, (unlike a Pregnancy Test) is when the Test Line is EQUAL TO or DARKER THAN the Control Line.

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Image: www.ovulation-calculator.com Graphics: Pee-On-A-Stick-Freak

Here’s another good illustration:

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Image: www.opktests.com

And here is one displaying ACTUAL OPK Results:

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Image: www.babyornot.co.uk Graphics: Pee-On-A-Stick-Freak

Some also opt to use a Digital Ovulation Test, to confirm the Midstream Test or the Test Strips Positive looking Results!

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Image: www.amazon.com Graphics: Pee-On-A-Stick-Freak

You can’t go wrong with a digital. There’s absolutely no guessing involved although they are a bit more expensive. But if you happen to get a Blue Dye Test, you’ll understand WHY it may be a Good idea to FOLLOW up with a digital since they can be a bit harder to interpret. (You’ll have to check out my OPK reviews if you want some further insight with that subject).

Name Brand OPK’s that you can find in your local drugstore can be a bit costly. Some opt to use the Internet Cheapies known as “Test Strips” Because essentially you can buy a Big bundle of OPK’s and HPT’s for a small fraction of the price. If you like to Test frequently it can add up, and I’ve found over the years that it’s a much more cost-effective way to gain more insight into your Fertile Window each cycle.

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Image: www.fertilityties.com Graphics: Pee-On-A-Stick-Freak

Which (I might add) you can’t beat FREE! You have a great chance of winning a bundle of OPK’s and HPT Strips (on me) simply by “Liking” our Facebook Page – (PeeOnAStickFreak) “Following” our Twitter (@PeeOnAStickFRK) and lastly our Instagram (PeeOnAStickFreak) – The more referrals you have, the greater your odds are! All you have to do is have your friends/family members comment on each account stating WHO refered them! SIMPLE! I will be picking winners randomly and the ultimate prize is the bundle along with a $25 Gift Certificate to a restaurant of your Choice! GOOD LUCK!

Getting back to business (Ha Ha) when taking your Test, you’ll want to make sure that your urine doesn’t sit out for any length of time, and you also hold the Dip stick in your (CONCENTRATED) urine for at least the specified amount of time on the instructions. Otherwise I highly recommend dipping it for a full 5-10 seconds! Only Because you want to avoid under-saturating your Test and yielding a lighter Test line, and in some cases a False Positive Result! (Check out my OPK Experiments, Videos, and of course my Informational Tidbits) to my conclusions with those results! Also, I highly recommend waiting the full 5-10 mins before interpreting the results. You’ve got to keep in mind that OPK’s work a bit differently than your average HPT.

(Something else I just wanted to add which I also mentioned in my video) is when you purchase a pack of Midstream Tests, Cassettes or even Test Strips – you have to judge each Test individually! The reason I’m saying this is because different Tests have different amounts of Dye in them. You may have taken a Test yesterday (that came in the same pack) that had a very Dark CONTROL Line, whereas today’s Test has a very Faint one. No worries! Your Test Line (if positive) will reflect how light or dark your CONTROL line is. So if the CONTROL line is very light, as long as your Test line matches that or is a bit Darker than it’s considered positive! Same thing if the line is lighter, that would be considered Negative!

So with that being said, (Yes I know it’s a ton of information to absorb if you’re not familiar with these things) after a few cycles, you’ll get more familiar with it the same as you would with all of your other secondary fertility signs!

For a more, in-depth demonstration I made this lovely video showing you just how simple this can be but most of all BENEFICIAL! When you yield your first true positive result, don’t forget to DTD! (Do The Deed) also known as Baby Dancing!

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Cervical Mucus

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Image: www.searcpp.com Graphics: Pee-On-A-Stick-Freak

 

The art of TTC (Trying to Conceive), TTA (Trying to Abstain) or even simply Trying To Track Your Cycle – (for other purposes) can be tricky, and have a lot to do with how you Chart your cycles each month. There is so much more to it nowadays than simply counting up 4 weeks from the first day of your Menstrual Period – (which is what I used to do before the Internet came out!) Ha Ha

Aside from The Charting Basics, one of the main things you’ll need to learn about is your CM (Cervical Mucus) and CP (Cervical Position). Whether you’re TTC or TTA from Pregnancy, you’ll need to know about this thing called Cervical Fluid! Much like CP, CM changes color, consistency, and texture throughout each part of our cycle. Those changes essentially can give us many clues and insight into where we are, and when we can expect our Fertile Window!

The first part of our cycle is known as, “The Follicular Phase,” which is the first day of our Menstrual Flo until Ovulation occurs. A Hormone called Estrogen is responsible for the things that change, and take place just up until that point. Estrogen more or less gears our bodies up in preparation for Conception. Your Cervical Fluid plays a very important role in achieving that! Here’s an illustration to depict the different stages your CM goes through, throughout this wonderful (or not so wonderful) thing we call a cycle!

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Image: www.babycenter.com Graphics: Pee-On-A-Stick-Freak

 

As you can see, there are many different colors, consistencies, and textures. If you’re only tracking your Period, then you may miss out on a potential opportunity to successfully Conceive! (Same thing if you’re actively trying to PREVENT Pregnancy) fertile CM plays a huge role in that!

AFTER MENSTRUATION: Your CM may be a bit dry, or Scant. Immediately following, you may notice a slight moisture, but that in itself is considered to be infertile if there’s not a higher volume of it!

NEARING OVULATION: You may notice that you have a wet spot on your panties, wetter consistency, milky, clearer CM. Estrogen is responsible for making your Fluid thinner and more fertile.

TIME OF OVULATION: Cervical Fluid tends to be thinner, slippery, and can stretch 1-2 CM! It may also have the consistency of raw Egg whites! It can also be tinged with Pink or Blood. This would be considered your most highly fertile CM! Sperm can live up to 5 days in this type of Cervical Fluid. This type is very alkaline.

Post Ovulation: It can be a bit dry, if nothing at all. Sometimes your cervix may appear to be somewhat moisture BUT any Cervical Fluid once Ovulation has occurred should be considered Infertile.

WHEN EXPECTING MENSES: Your Cervical Fluid can go from dry/moist to a thicker, Creamier, Lotion-Like consistency that is extremely acidic unlike EWCM and will make it difficult for sperm to swim through.

POSSIBLE PREGNANCY: Your CM will generally get thicker, white, or even yellow. It gets extremely thick to form what is known as a Mucus plug.

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Photos: www.babycenter.com Graphics: Pee-On-A-Stick-Freak

 
The absolute, most fertile CM prior to Ovulation is EWCM! You may notice this specifically the few days before, and/or the day of. You may also know it to appear Blood tinged, or brown. Mid-cycle spotting is not uncommon. If you’re not familiar with this, crack open an Egg and look at it, feel it, stretch it. Your own is very much like this!

Image: www.fertilityfriend.com Graphics: Pee-On-A-Stick-Freak

Image: www.fertilityfriend.com Graphics: Pee-On-A-Stick-Freak

 
You may not always produce this type of CM, so even if you only see Watery CM, take advantage of it! There are always ways to increase and improve your CM. (Another story for another day!) But in the meantime drink plenty of water, take Evening Primrose Oil from the start of Menses until Ovulation, Mucinex and/or Robitussin Guafenesin can help aide in that!

Post Ovulation, you may notice abrupt dryness and your cervix may exhibit slight moisture. That is very common, and if your charting you may see a Temperature rise to confirm it! Progesterone is responsible for the Luteal Phase, which is the day after Ovulation until we either Test positive with a HPT (Home Pregnancy Test) or the dreaded AF (Aunt Flo) rears her ugly head if you’re TTC (Trying To Conceive). As we approach the latter part of our cycle – our CM tends to get a bit thick, Creamy, and Lotion-Like which is very acidic and considered non-fertile. If our Menses is due within a couple days, you may notice another dry spell. (Again, very common!)

So whether you’re actively TTC or actively TTA – Cervical Mucus, Cervical Position and charting your BBT (Basal Body Temperature) can play a major role in your success!

If you’re trying to abstain from Pregnancy, you’ll want to avoid intercourse on the days you notice any type of fertile-quality CM!

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Cervical Position

Image: www.wikihow.com Graphics: Pee-On-A-Stick-Freak

Image: www.wikihow.com Graphics: Pee-On-A-Stick-Freak

 
One of the hardest things you may come across in this wonderful journey of yours is this thing called CP (Cervical Position), which goes hand-in-hand with CM (Cervical Mucus). These are both considered to be secondary fertility signs that can help you figure out where you are in your cycle! Your CP changes throughout each part of your cycle which can give clues about when you may be nearing Ovulation, Menstruation, or even possibly Pregnancy. It may take you a while to get to know your body, (and it’s lovely functions), but with that being said it’ll be well worth the time and effort once you start to gain a bit of insight.

A great time to start practicing your personal exams, is right after you’ve gotten out of the shower, or after you have thoroughly washed your hands with antibacterial soap to help avoid infections!

Image: www.wikihow.com Graphics: Pee-On-A-Stick-Freak

Image: www.wikihow.com Graphics: Pee-On-A-Stick-Freak

 
It’s very important to make sure you have clean hands before checking your CP or CM. Another tip is to keep your fingernails trimmed to avoid internal scratches. The cervix is the area on the top of your Vaginal canal, and in-between your uterus. You can start by sitting on the toilet or even squatting, while gently inserting two fingers and reaching until you can feel it. Depending on how High or Low your cervix is at that time determines whether it’s fertile or Infertile. It’s highly recommended to check your CP only once a day, (sitting the same way) due to its variations throughout the day. When dealing with CM though it’s recommended to check several times a day while only recording the most fertile Fluid!

 
DURING MENSTRUATION: Your cervix usually will be low, firm and slightly open to allow your Menses to flow. It would feel firm more like the tip of your nose.

NEARING OVULATION: Your cervix will be a little higher to reach, a bit softer, moist and slightly open in preparation for the sperm to swim through. You may start to notice your CM appears to be a bit more fertile at this time.

TIME OF OVULATION:  Your cervix should be at its highest since you’re at your peak fertility! You may not even be able to reach it, or you may just be able to touch it with the tips of your fingers. The cervix will be open with a good amount of fertile CM and feel very soft, more like your lips. The outer surface may also feel very wet or even slippery.

POST OVULATION:  Your cervix will generally go back to a low, firm and closed Position. It will feel firm again, like the tip of your nose with a dry sensation.

NEARING MENSTRUATION:  Your cervix will continue to feel firm like an unripe fruit perhaps with slight moisture. You may not observe much CM if any at all and it will protrude low.

POSSIBLE PREGNANCY:  Your cervix usually begins to move higher, with a soft, sponge-like feel to it that remains closed to protect the uterus. CM will then start to get thicker, creating what is known as a Mucus Plug. With that being said, the time varies from woman to woman as to when this all takes place. For some it can happen as soon as Conception occurs and for others it may be well into their first trimester.

 
Here is something I’ve put together from photos taken of a woman who was 25, had never given Birth, had a tilted uterus, and allowed this amazing website to document her CP and CM each day throughout her whole cycle! This may be helpful since most of us cannot see inside, we can only feel!

Photos: www.beautifulcervix.com Collage & Graphics: Pee-On-A-Stick-Freak

Photos: www.beautifulcervix.com Collage & Graphics: Pee-On-A-Stick-Freak

 
If you go through, you’ll see just how unique our CP really can be! Being a woman, and truly understanding our own anatomy can be quiet empowering.

Something else that sort of helped me further understand this magical, mystical thing we call a cervix – is knowing the best way to actually describe and further illustrate what we are technically “feeling” for?! The specialists who write these amazing articles pertaining to our fertility describe our cervix as being, “Low, Medium, or High,” when going through the different stages in our cycle. I of course, thought that meant my cervix was like a ball that literally lifted itself up, or buried itself down into my Vaginal canal! (Oh silly me) – It took me forever to fully understand what that meant. Take a look at this next illustration here:

Image: www.wikihow.com Graphics: Pee-On-A-Stick-Freak

Image: www.wikihow.com Graphics: Pee-On-A-Stick-Freak

 
As you can see while looking at everything from a frontal point of view, I found that the best way to describe the CP itself wasn’t so much “High,” or “Low,” – but really like, “Coming towards you,” or, “Moving away from you.” If that makes more sense? When you insert your fingers and can very easily reach your cervix, (like it’s coming towards you at a close proximity) – then that would be considered, “Low.” When it’s really hard to reach (like it’s going away from you) – and maybe not even within reach at all, that would be considered, “High.”

If you think about it, the cervix needs to be as far back from the opening of your Vaginal canal so that the sperm will have a shorter journey! Shorter swim means a higher chance for Conception which helps create the perfect (Fertile Window) of opportunity! Makes more sense now, huh? Here’s also another visual aide that can help:

Image: www.wikihow.com Graphics: Pee-On-A-Stick-Freak

Image: www.wikihow.com Graphics: Pee-On-A-Stick-Freak

 
So as you can see, you can only have highly fertile Cervical Fluid such as EWCM (Egg White Cervical Mucus) and get a high volume of it if you have a highly fertile cervix that’s open! That not only allows fertile quality CM to protrude the canal but it also acts as a passageway to keep the sperm nourished and alive until possible Conception can occur!

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Basal Body Thermometer

 

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Image: www.ivillage.com Graphics: Pee-On-A-Stick-Freak

 

There are so many benefits you can experience from charting your fertility! One of the main, key ingredients in order to gain insight into your most fertile window is the ability to track your daily BBT (Basal Body Temperature) throughout the duration of your cycle. Your BBT is your lowest body Temperature at rest, following a solid block of at least 3 hours of sleep or more.

Now, before you go reaching for a typical (Fever Thermometer) you may be surprised to know that fertility experts of the like have come up with this amazing invention known as a Basil Body Thermometer! That’s what you’ll typically want to use. It’s a special kind of Thermometer that is very inexpensive, you can find it at most drugstores and it measures at 1/100 of a degree. So for example, with a normal (Fever Thermometer) that only measures at 1/10 degree – your temp would read at 98.6° whereas a BBT will measure your temp detecting slight body fluctuations reading at 98.67°. It’s very ideal just for the fact that you may detect Ovulation with only a slight Temperature increase over the course of several cycles, which may give you better insight inside your future fertile window.

During your FP (Follicular Phase) Estrogen is responsible for lower BBT’s. Once Ovulation occurs, you’ll notice a rise in BBT’s due to Progesterone, which is a heat inducing Hormone responsible for gearing your body up for possible Conception. Many women commonly opt to use OPK’s (Ovulation Predictor Kits) to detect their LH Surge (Luteinizing Hormone) that’s highly concentrated just a day or two prior to Ovulation – but only a rise in temperatures for at least 3 days or more will confirm it!

It’s important when temping, to do so at the same time everyday and in the same manner. Some may opt to do it vaginal rather than orally. Whichever method you prefer consistency is key! Another important factor is making sure you get plenty of rest beforehand. Otherwise you may start to notice erratic temperatures on your chart that can make it difficult when trying to interpret it. It’s not uncommon though to occasionally experience a slightly higher or lower temp when charting. The most important thing is maintaining a pattern with several temps throughout each part of your cycle so you can know when to accurately pinpoint Ovulation, as well as knowing when to expect a reliable result on a HPT (Home Pregnancy Test). If you’re charting for other reasons, pinpointing Ovulation will also aid in knowing when to expect your next Period.

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